Dave Foreman’s Wild Legacy

“Here, then, is the heart of conservation. Keeping Wilderness and wildlife free, hale, and hearty is about letting beings be, about growing the goodness of self-braking that lets land and living beings have their own will.”
~Dave Foreman, from his essay Wild Things for Their Own Sake

It would be difficult to overstate the contributions Dave Foreman, Co-Founder of New Mexico Wild, made to protecting Wilderness and wild things, and for advancing – years ahead of his time – concepts like rewilding. From his days as a Co-founder of Earth First! to his vocal work preserving sky islands and the development of the rewilding movement, Dave’s legacy as an eco-warrior forged a deep and rugged path through wilderness conservation and activism. Dave was most recently the founder of the Rewilding Institute. His vision was one of a rewilded North America, filled with “many-fold, tangled life not hobbled by Man’s will.”

Conservationist and author Terry Tempest Williams wrote this about Dave:

“His spirited voice, raised fist, and memorable gestures including the unrolling of a black crack on the Glen Canyon Dam —alongside his writings as an eco-philosopher and his work with the Rewilding Institute — his legacy will live on. The FBI identified him as an ‘eco-terrorist.’ In his words, ‘I hope I am a danger to the attitude that the Earth is a smorgasbord for human beings.’ A passionate defender of wild lands and wild lives, Dave made us all braver in our activism and showed us what appears ‘radical’ is actually conservative in the importance of speaking the truth about protecting the planet. Foreman embodied the seriousness of true commitment with humor and conviction. He was fearless and he was eloquent. His heart was huge, and his vision was clear, ‘We are trying to help the evolution of Mother Earth to continue.’ The wolves must be howling about now in the New Mexico wilderness where his wish is to happily decompose back to Earth.”

A charismatic speaker and prolific writer, Dave published hundreds of essays, articles, and several books, including Rewilding North America; The Lobo Outback Funeral Home: A Novel; and Take Back Conservation.

Dave made what was probably his final public speech at the annual New Mexico Wild 25th Anniversary Celebration in April of this year. Even though Dave was a little under the weather, he stepped up to address our large group of Wilderness supporters.  With the same vigor and energy he brought to founding the conservation movement, Dave wholeheartedly thanked all of us for helping to save his favorite place on earth, New Mexico.  Ever the inspiration, Dave could always be counted on to bring the absolute best of his wildling heart to every effort. It was a transformative moment for us all.

The Dave Foreman Wilderness Defenders Program

In the spirit of Dave’s love of wild places, we’re seeking volunteer Wilderness Defenders who will cultivate relationships with designated natural areas in New Mexico, helping to monitor Wilderness values and conditions. This information will be incredibly useful as we continue to advocate for greater levels of protection. With more than 36 million acres of public land in the state, we can use as many boots on the ground as possible.

Learn More About The Dave Foreman Wilderness Defenders Program

Let’s Go

Dave Foreman with New Mexico Wild Deputy Director Tisha Broska

Dave Foreman with New Mexico Wild Deputy Director Tisha Broska

Dave Foreman with New Mexico Wild Deputy Director Tisha Broska

Dave Foreman with New Mexico Wild Director Mark Allison

We invite you to help us celebrate Dave’s wild legacy by sharing your thoughts and memories about Dave below.

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Tisha, Nathan and Nathan:

Thinking of you all and Dave and Nancy. They and you guys were the life force of NMWA in the early years and steady and steely hands in the years since. It is the end of an era—I can hardly believe they are both gone. If Dave was the fire, Nancy was the wood, keeping the fires burning. Together they were a force. But I know you and NMWA are carrying their passion and perseverance in defense of wilderness forward.


Very sad. In my opinion Dave has always been the ultimate fighter for Wilderness. I was honored to serve on the Board with him (and Nancy) and always proud to have him support our fight to add to the Pecos Wilderness.
I have defended him to conservative environmentalists who didn’t have the passion or the love of wilderness that Dave had. It will be a far time before we see anyone with the special fire in Dave’s eyes again.

Cindy Roper

I was only twice in Dave’s physical presence, but after listening to him speak and reading his writings, I came to think of him as my brother from another mother.

Can’t wait to find him at the campfire on the other side.

mansur johnson

Dave was very important to me. I lived in Tucson when his gang of merry pranksters got in trouble for proposing to bring down, I believe it was, a large electrical transmission tower. I can’t remember the details, or even if they were guilty. His trial followed, and a local journalist covered it in the Tucson Weekly. He left Tucson and, founded New Mexico Wild. I supported that group as best I could for years, because I wanted to support Dave’s projects–all concerned with protecting the Wild. I am older than him, and it pains me when I outlive a hero of mine, whose work was very important. Thank you, Dave!

Adrienne Seltz

It was always a privilege to get a few minutes to speak to Dave! He was one of the first warriors and I always walked away inspired!

Chant Thomas

I first met Dave in the late ’70s while lobbying in DC. Dave gave me good advice not to wear a suit & tie; better look like I’d just walked out of the Oregon woods. In the early ’80s, Dave and the Earth First Road Show broke down for days at my remote Siskiyou Mountain homesteading community and we all got acquainted. Later I filmed Dave in a Bald Mountain Road blockade in the Kalmiopsis where he was run over by a logging crew pickup truck, clinging to the front bumper for 103 yards. He was arrested & that afternoon I bailed Dave out of the Josephine County Jail & ferreted him back to my place where he could hide out for a spell unknown, and chill from the brutal pace of front-line activism. Happy Trails, Dave……

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Art Goodtimes

Great to see New Mexico Wild honoring one of the most courageous and far-sighted environmental activists of our generation with its Defenders program. I was privileged to know and work with Dave from 1981 on, serving as poetry editor for Earth First! Journal and then poetry co-editor at Wild Earth. Check out my blogspot for my homage for him at https://draft.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/3759648046042515233/2731535062857706539

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